Kurt Helin

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New Wolves Tom Thibodeau, GM Layden expect draft night to be a wild one


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden are expecting their first draft night as leaders of the Minnesota Timberwolves to be a wild one.

Thibodeau and Layden spoke on Tuesday, two days before the Wolves start the night with the fifth overall pick in the draft. Whether they end up keeping that pick remains to be seen.

Layden, the general manager, says the Wolves have received a number of calls from teams looking to trade for that fifth pick. The offers have included established players and picks.

Both men say they are evaluating their options and open to either trading the pick or staying at 5 and grabbing another young player to add to a promising roster.

Thibodeau says the Wolves are placing a premium on adding shooting.

Report: Celtics unable to swing trade for Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Jabari Parker

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We know where the Boston Celtics are in the rebuilding process — big game hunting time. They are loaded with nice young role players and draft picks, but they need an alpha, a superstar, an elite player.

GM Danny Ainge is trying. Hard. With their No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft as the centerpiece. It’s just not easy to swing that kind of deal — even for guys who are a step (or two) down from true alpha status. Marc Stein of ESPN has the details of Ainge’s effort.

But sources told ESPN that the Celtics, to date, have been rebuffed in their efforts to assemble a sufficiently enticing deal to acquire any of these four prime targets: Chicago Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward and Milwaukee Bucks teammates Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton….

The Bulls, sources say, continue to show little interest in dealing Butler to the Celtics, who previously tried to trade for him before the league’s annual deadline in February.

Sources say the Celtics are one of just a number of teams trying to convince Utah to surrender Hayward — Phoenix, which holds two lottery picks (No. 4 and 13) in Thursday’s draft, is another — but the Jazz have been telling interested teams that he is not available. The same, sources say, goes for Parker and Middleton in Milwaukee, since the Bucks regard both of those young cornerstones, as well as Giannis Antetokounmpo, as untouchables.

The Bulls are showing little interest in dealing Butler to anyone, but who would they get at No. 3 that is anywhere near as good (even potentially) as Butler. Utah likes where is it headed and Hayward is at the heart of its attack. I can’t blame the Bucks for wanting to keep their core together.

Eventually Ainge will get his star, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be expensive. And in a draft where there is a considerable drop off after the top two picks, selling teams on a package based around the third pick is destined to be difficult.

Milwaukee Bucks sign Jason Kidd to 3-year contract extension

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks have signed coach Jason Kidd to a three-year contract extension.

The team said Tuesday the agreement will keep Kidd in his position through the 2019-20 season.

Bucks co-owner Wes Edens says the team thinks there is “no better fit to lead our young and talented roster.”

Kidd says the Bucks’ coaches “still have work to do but we’re committed to the goal of building a team that consistently competes for titles.”

He is entering the last year of a three-year deal with Milwaukee initially signed in 2014. He is 74-90 over his first two seasons in Milwaukee, including a 41-win season and playoff appearance in 2014-15.

Kidd also coached in Brooklyn for one season, guiding the Nets to a 44-38 record and a playoff appearance in 2013-14.

John Calipari says (to Minnesota paper) Jamal Murray wants to go to Timberwolves


Is there a better marketer-in-coach in college basketball than John Calipari?

The NBA Draft is a big recruiting day for Calipari — there are at least three Kentucky players expected to go in the 2016 draft, two in the lottery. That was after six last season, including No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns.

The top Wildcat prospect this season is Jamal Murray, who is listed as a combo guard but will play the two in the NBA. He’s projected no lower than eighth (probably top six) and is one of the better shooters in this draft. Where would he like to land? Calipari said this to the Star-Tribune in Minnesota (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“OK, well, here’s what I would say. [Wolves president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau] and I are great friends. He helped my career, helped me basketball-wise and every other way. I’m a big fan of Thibs. Jamal? I’m saying this to you and no one else. He loves Minnesota. As a matter of fact, that’s where he’d like to go.’’

Can’t you see Calipari saying this to the Minnesota-based reporter with a wink? The man knows how to promote himself and his program.

Minnesota drafts fifth and they want to add shooting (they start Zach LaVine at the two, Andrew Wiggins at the three), which would put Buddy Hield and Murray at the top of the list. If they don’t trade the pick for a more established shooter. Starting with the third pick this draft could go a lot of different ways.

The good news for Murray is that while Thibodeau is a yeller in practice, he’s coming out of a Calipari program so he’ll be ready for it.

Report: Teams calling Kings about Ben McLemore, who is available

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Ben McLemore was on the trade block in February at the trade deadline, although the sense was that George Karl wanted to move him more than the front office. The coaching dynamic has changed in Sacramento: George Karl is gone, and Dave Joerger is in for the Kings.

Yet McLemore remains available, and he is a name you could hear mentioned as part of a trade on NBA Draft night Thursday. From Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.

McLemore is athletic, can defend, is starting to grasp the game better, and is shot 36 percent from three this season. He’s far from a star, but there is some quality there, the concerning issue was how his progress stalled out. Is that because George Karl’s Kings were a mess, or is his ceiling lower than anticipated?

If other teams value McLemore’s shooting and potential more than the Kings — and it seems that is the case — a deal will get done. If not on the day of the draft, later this summer.